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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsAll fields are evolving, new methods are being brought into all fields at all time. But there have been really big shifts in empirical economics, empirical political science, other social sciences. Where we’ve started using experimental methods that health researchers have been using for a long time. RCTs, experimental approaches, really you could say research design-based empirical work. Angrist and Pischke’s article is really nice. For those of you who haven’t read it yet. it lays out the trends and social science from the isolated early experiments to how momentum built around these issues. So I just want to highlight some of the patterns Angrist and Pischke bring out about the last 25 years.

Skip to 0 minutes and 40 secondsAnd, you know, maybe this is how it’s going to go down with the new methods, I don’t know. The first thing they point out, and it’s pretty interesting, is 25 years in, 30 years into this scientific revolution in empirical work and economics, there’s a lot of heterogeneity across subfields and how widely they’re used still. Persistent heterogeneity. They put a lot of emphasis on this in their article. So, even though in development economics and labor economics and some other fields, in applied microeconomics. This sort of subfield economics called applied microeconomics. Experimental and quasi-experimental approaches are widespread, they’re not in, say, industrial organization.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 secondsAnd one of the things I like about this article is, Angrist and Pischke say, “Hey, there are all these really obvious applications of these methods into industrial organization and one or two papers doing it. But somehow the leaders and IO, the powers that be in IO, don’t like these methods. So they haven’t spread that much in industrial organization.” So, there’s more divergence in methods then you would think would be called for based on the intellectual subject matter. That’s pretty interesting. And I think it does speak to a world of multiple equilibrium methods. In certain research communities, certain methods and norms become standard, and that’s an equilibrium, and in others they don’t.

Trends in social science in the last 25 years

If social science is, in fact, experiencing a revolution, what changes have we seen? Economists Dr. Joshua Angrist of MIT and Dr. Jorn-Steffen Pischke of the London School of Economics identified some recent shifts in how economists and other social scientists do research. In general, they found that different subfields tend to use very different methods. Watch the video to learn more.

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This video is from the free online course:

Transparent and Open Social Science Research

University of California, Berkeley